Once Hadhrat Shah Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Sahab (db) explained, that just being connected to an elder and acting upon his consultation regarding religious and spiritual issues can be enough for ones Islah (rectification or purification) – to make baya’t is not necessary.
Then Hadhratwala gave the following example:
Hadhrat Maulana Abdur-Rahman Kimalapuri Sahab, who was Shaikhul Hadith, didn’t become a Mureed yet. He established an Islahi (remedial) relationship with Hadhrat Hakeemul Ummat Mujaddidul Millat Thanvi and after a while when Hadhrat Shaikh Thanvi saw his heart was polished and his nafs (ego) was rectified he gave him Khalifat.
Maulana Kimalapuri said, “Hadhrat, I’m not even your mureed (disciple) and you’re giving me Khalifat.” He replied, “Islah-e-Nafs (rectifying oneself) is Fardh and bay’at is Sunnah.You have done the obligatory work. Come, now you can make bay’at as well.”
So, he became a disciple later on but got Khalifat first. We learn that Islah-e-Nafs is Fardh, just as Namaz is Fardh, Sawm is Fardh and Zakat is Fardh. And it’s obvious that the importance of Fardh is more than that of Sunnat.
[from the Mawaiz “Taluq ma Allah”, pg. 21]